The Best of Human Kindness

January 10, 2005

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Last week, a homeless man stepped from the swirling, biting winter wind into the Mercy Corps headquarters office in Portland, Oregon. He carried a bag in each hand, presumably containing his belongings. The man approached our receptionist and asked “Are you collecting money for the disaster victims?” She told him we were.

“How will my money help?” the man asked. The receptionist gave him a brief overview of Mercy Corps' efforts throughout Southern Asia.

After taking a few moments to consider what she’d said, the man set down his bags and rolled up his sleeve. He slowly pulled out a bundle of money and, without counting or keeping any, handed it to the receptionist.

“Please make sure this reaches the homeless families in Asia,” he requested. The receptionist thanked him and asked him if he wanted a receipt. He shook his head "no." With that, he picked up his bags, walked to the front door, opened it and again disappeared into the chilly, blue Portland day.

When the receptionist tallied the man’s donation, it amounted to $67 — enough to provide temporary shelter, cooking and bedding supplies to a displaced family in Indonesia.

This man's heartwarming generosity is just one poignant example out of thousands. In the past two weeks, Mercy Corps has experienced an overwhelming and encouraging outpouring of support.

From half-million dollar grants to donations from elementary school classrooms, the thoughtfulness of organizations and individuals around the world is making a difference for tsunami survivors. The rapid and steady flow of charity helped Mercy Corps respond immediately to the crisis, and donations are driving our ongoing relief efforts.

Children have brought their weekly allowances to our Portland headquarters and asked what else they could be doing to help children halfway around the world. Others have simply called or written to express their support and gratitude for Mercy Corps' work.

Here's a sampling of what we've heard:

  • "I felt powerless to help until a friend mentioned Mercy Corps. Thanks for not just giving me the feeling that I've helped, but updating me on where my contribution is actually going."
  • ”Thank you for all the diligent work that you do in the relief aid effort. You have earned your wings.”
  • "This donation is made on behalf of my 8 year old nephew Hunter. He received some money for Christmas and decided he wanted to send some of it to the kids who were affected by this horrible tragedy."
  • "I live in a very remote area of Alaska and I appreciate your helping me to reach out to the rest of the world, especially when so many are in need."
  • "Thank you for all you do to help us to turn our money into true gifts to the world."

The past two weeks have proven that the worst of nature's wrath can evoke the best of human kindness. From field workers in Banda Aceh's ruined streets to big-hearted individuals on the streets of Portland, we're spanning the world to stand with people in need.

Thank you for supporting Mercy Corps.